Saturday, 18 December 2010

Email List Building for Bloggers

This isn't so much a review as a recommendation to read the series of blog posts about List Building for Bloggers (#LBB)  written by Phil Hollows, the Founder and CEO of FeedBlitz .  This is an alternative to Feedburner for pushing out RSS feeds to subscribers which I use.

This series of posts are designed to:
  • help you get the most benefit from your blogging 
  • harness the power and capabilities of email and social media communications network - together with your blog - to build a list of followers.
These are the posts to date on the Feedblitz blog:

Get the basics in place first
  1. Why aren't Email Lists Dead in the Age of Social Media?
  2. Lists, Email Marketing and Your Blog
  3. Five Key Steps to Grow Your Blog's Mailing List
  4. Growing Your List: Accelerating Subscriber Growth
  5. Growing Your List: Improving Engagement
  6. Avoiding the Spam Trap 
Optimisation of your Mailing List
  1. Mailing List Underperforming? Optimize it with these Tips!
I've been reading them as they've been published and, while I wouldn't necessarily follow all the advice, there's lots and lots of good content and reminders of things you know but forgotten.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Book Review: Color and Light by James Gurney

Color and Light by James Gurney
I've studied colour and light over the years and have many books on this topic.  However I've never ever come across a book which tackles this topic in such a comprehensive and authoritative way as James Gurney's new book Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter.

Here's my review of this brilliant new book - which in my honest opinion is set to become a standard for all artists working in the realist tradition.

Title: Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter  by James Gurney
Synopsis:  This is a comprehensive art instruction book about all the important aspects colour and light for students of art and those wishing to improve the quality of their painting in any media. It addresses the FAQs about these topics raised by painters and illustrators. 
Summary review: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - This is a book for students and improvers and all those who want to know more about colour and how light and colour interact - in life and in a painting.  Practical application of the lessons learned is made possible through a very accessible text coupled with excellent use of images and graphics.  Coverage of this topic is comprehensive.
  • comprehensive, informative and stimulating - about every aspect of colour and light relevant to the realist painter
  • James' style is very accessible - succinct and informative and avoids being unnecessarily technical
  • knowledgeable overview of the use of colour and light in different traditions and painting movements
  • he simplifies complex topics.  Enough information is given to enable the reader to grasp the point being made but not so much that it overwhelms the reader
  • useful review of the different types of colour wheel - excellent graphics
  • an excellent and systematic analysis of the properties of pigments (in an appendix)
  • interesting recommended reading list - not one you'll have seen before!
Think Again?
  • Not as technical as those who love the in-depth aspects of colour science might like - however all important aspects are covered in a very accessible fashion
Who should buy this?:
  • artists using every type of media
  • art students needing an excellent primer about colour in every aspect
  • particularly relevant to painters working in the realist tradition
  • those who don't like instruction books which are dumbed down or ignore important areas of knowledge
Who should not buy this?
  • People who like step by step books - because it's not one
  • People who like pointers on "how to mix colours" - because it doesn't do this
Author / (Publisher): James Gurney / Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC
Technical data: Publication Date: 30th November 2010
Paperback -  224 pages;

Let me be very clear on this point.   This book comes very highly recommended by me.  

I've not come across any other book which covers this topic in such breath and depth and makes it accessible as well. 
  • I've got ones which are more technical - but they're much less accessible. 
  • I've got ones which are as accessible - but they don't cover as much as he does
The major plus point about this book is that it is comprehensive and accessible art instruction of a very high order
  • It does not attempt to dumb down or omit important aspects of the way in which colour and light function and interact. 
  • It articulates very clearly how you can make choices about how to use different features of colour and light in a painting.
I am so confident about the impact of this book that I am happy to predict that if you buy and study this book your paintings will improve.

You can get an overview of what the book covers by reference to the Table of Contents.

There's so much one could say about this book - one could write a small book!  The table of contents gives you the headings - the summary below is what they actually mean in practice.  Here then are some of the more specific highlights of this book and reasons why it makes a good buy.

This book explains:
  • how outdoor studies of colour and light and plein air painting influence great studio paintings
  • how to look for sources of light in the paintings of others - in order to better understand their impact
  • how colours respond to different types of light - and why red looks good in a painting
Light and form
  • what are the different types of lighting and how it impacts on form
  • what's the best type of lighting for different subject matter
  • how light impacts on colour saturation and detail
  • five general truths about reflected light
  • what are the different types of shadows - and how they behave
  • how to simplify form in the context of the way light hits it
  • how a subject's material and ability to transmit light impacts on colour and light effects
  • how light and shade can add value (and drama!) to design of a composition
Elements of colour
  • the different types of colour wheel
  • the different types of colour
  • the characteristics associated with different types of colour
  • what a chroma value chart looks like
  • how greys and neutral colours can be your best friend
  • tips for handling greens (and reds and pinks!)
  • how tints and gradations are created
Paint and pigments
  • the different - and important - characteristics of pigments
  • how pigments can be charted
  • why painters start from underpaintings in an opaque colour
  • a simpler way of achieving an effective sky gradation
  • how you can create glazes
  • different ways of organising paint on a palette
  • different types of limited palettes
  • how to create mud
Colour relationships
  • the value of monochromatic colour schemes
  • the effect of colour temperature on the viewer
  • what are warm and cool colours and how to use them
  • the different ways of mixing colour
  • how a triadic colour scheme works
  • the value of the colour accent
  • how to make a colour string
  • the value of premixing value steps
  • why it's important to leave out colours
  • what's the saturation cost
  • how to create a gamut mask
  • how a colour scheme can have a shape
  • how to create your source colours
  • what pushes you to identify accents
  • why a colour script is useful
Visual perception
  • how tonal and colour information gets processed
  • what can help create a more effective nocturne
  • how edges vary in different lighting conditions
  • why Goethe was wrong
  • how to isolate a spot of colour
  • schemes which describe how colours influence one another
  • colour associations and their impact on our psychology
  • how transmitted light works and what its impact is
  • what subsurface scattering is and how it works
  • the different colour zones if the face
  • how to create convincing hair
  • what a caustic reflection is and how it is generated
  • three rules of specularity
  • the different types of highlights - and how they work
  • how to use photographs more effectively
Atmospheric effects
  • how the color gradations work in a sky
  • the impact of atmospheric perspective on colour
  • what is reverse atmospheric perspective - and how it works
  • why painters prefer to work at dawn and dusk
  • how to paint sunsets from observation
  • techniques for painting rainbows
  • why transparency is important when painting trees
  • how sunbeams and shadowbeams work - and when to use them
  • the shape of dappled light
  • three rules of cloud shadows
  • how the lighting and colour of the foreground influences design and focus
  • why the age of snow makes a difference
  • reflections, refraction and shadows on water - and why they are different
  • how the behaviour of water impacts on colour and light
Now I'd extremely surprised if a lot of this is not entirely unknown to self-taught painters.  Much much may also only be a vague memory to those with fine art degrees - assuming they were ever taught it in the first place!

I first commented on Color and Light in MAKING A MARK: "Color and Light" and Making a Mark.

.......and finally

James Gurney's first art instruction book was published in 2009.  A year ago I published my review of it - see Book Review - Imaginative Realism by James Gurney

Note:  I was sent a review copy of "Color and Light" by James Gurney. 
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